Reuters: Tehran’s ambassador to Iraq will lead the Iranian delegation in talks with U.S. officials in Iraq on Monday to discuss stability in the country, Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday. TEHRAN (Reuters) – Tehran’s ambassador to Iraq will lead the Iranian delegation in talks with U.S. officials in Iraq on Monday to discuss stability in the country, Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday.
It is a rare face-to-face meeting between the arch-enemies who broke ties shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran that toppled the U.S.-backed Shah.
“Hassan Kazemi-Qomi will lead the Iranian delegation for talks with America’s representative about Iraq’s security,” ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said. “The talks will start on Monday.”
Iran has said the talks, being held at the request of Iraqi leaders, would focus on the situation in Iraq, dismissing the possibility of discussing other issues including Iran’s disputed nuclear program.
Hardline cleric Ahmad Khatami, a member of a clerical body that supervises Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on Friday Iran had no intention of discussing other issues with the United States during the meeting.
“Iraqi officials urged us to talk to Americans in order to resolve the existing problems in Iraq. It is not holding negotiations with America,” Khatami told worshippers at Tehran University. His remarks were broadcast live on state radio.
The United States accuses Iran of fomenting violence in Iraq by backing Shi’ite militia in the neighboring country and of providing weapons and the technology for new versions of roadside bombs used to kill American troops.
Tehran denies the charges and accuses Washington of igniting tension between Iraq’s Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims.
Iran is locked in a standoff with the West over its atomic program. Washington accuses Tehran of wanting nuclear weapons. Iran says it needs nuclear technology only to generate electricity.
IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei said on Thursday that Iran was probably three to eight years away from producing a nuclear bomb if it so chooses and appealed for Tehran and the West to restart negotiations on a compromise as soon as possible.
Iranian officials have repeatedly ruled out freezing uranium enrichment, which can be used to make nuclear fuel or, if highly enriched, provide material for weapons.
“Iran has made its decision today and none of the world’s powers can stop Iran’s nuclear work,” President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a rally in the central province of Isfahan on Friday, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.